Tony Johnson, Leader, Herefordshire Council, says cutbacks – but with eye on the future

First published in Letters

THE question ‘what do we get for our council tax?’ was posed in the Hereford Times (Opinion, May 22) and deserves an answer.

The following will give readers at least some idea of what pays for what.

Annual running costs (approximate) are: adult care and wellbeing £70 million, children’s services £43m, transport subsidies £5m, rubbish collection and disposal £14m, road maintenance £10m, income from council tax £81m.

Readers will note that council tax contributes barely 72% of the cost of adult and child care costs.

Just one child in full-time care costs approximately £200,000 a year. A ‘band D’ house pays £1,250 a year in council tax so we need 160 band D houses paying council tax to cover the cost of one such child.

Add to this street cleaning, street lighting, flood defences, staff wages, property maintenance, loan repayments, inflation etc.

We get income from council tax, business rates, charges and government grants. The last item has been drastically cut. The difference between falling income and rising costs by 2017 will be approximately £65 million. That is why the full council agreed last year to make cuts.

Annual costs have been reduced by £35 million so far.

Another £30 million has to be found over the next two to three years.

Readers know they cannot spend more than their income and neither can the council. But we have attracted £90 million of private investment in the new retail centre, seen huge development in the Enterprise Zone, laid plans for new roads, a bypass and houses. All critical for growth and jobs. We have also begun discussions for a new university.

This Conservative administration is committed to protect the vulnerable and children, responsible financial management of your taxes, a willingness to make difficult but unavoidable decisions and a vision for the future.

TONY JOHNSON Leader, Herefordshire Council

Comments (17)

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10:16am Sat 7 Jun 14

flamboyant says...

I can't take this man seriously when his key argument is inaccurate!

COUNCIL TAX FOR A BAND 'D' PROPERTY IS £1521.74

You numpty!!!!
I can't take this man seriously when his key argument is inaccurate! COUNCIL TAX FOR A BAND 'D' PROPERTY IS £1521.74 You numpty!!!! flamboyant
  • Score: 5

12:27pm Sat 7 Jun 14

denon says...

Flamboyant your the mumpty.

Herefordshire council's share of the band d council tax is £1,252.32, then the fire authority £75.06 then the police commissioner £182.28 then the parish is on average £43.70. In hereford it's £47.53

So mr farmer is correct he is only responsible for £1252.32.

You flamboyant are peddling false information, some might call you a liar
Flamboyant your the mumpty. Herefordshire council's share of the band d council tax is £1,252.32, then the fire authority £75.06 then the police commissioner £182.28 then the parish is on average £43.70. In hereford it's £47.53 So mr farmer is correct he is only responsible for £1252.32. You flamboyant are peddling false information, some might call you a liar denon
  • Score: -5

12:28pm Sat 7 Jun 14

denon says...

Sorry I got the wrong name not farmer but Johnson
Sorry I got the wrong name not farmer but Johnson denon
  • Score: -6

3:04pm Sat 7 Jun 14

flamboyant says...

Sorry Denon or should I say Councillor!

A band D property pays £1521.75 in Council Tax regardless of who gets a share of the pot! The Councils share of that money is £1252.32 !!

Liar? Cheap shot!!!!
Sorry Denon or should I say Councillor! A band D property pays £1521.75 in Council Tax regardless of who gets a share of the pot! The Councils share of that money is £1252.32 !! Liar? Cheap shot!!!! flamboyant
  • Score: 7

3:04pm Sat 7 Jun 14

flamboyant says...

Sorry Denon or should I say Councillor!

A band D property pays £1521.75 in Council Tax regardless of who gets a share of the pot! The Councils share of that money is £1252.32 !!

Liar? Cheap shot!!!!
Sorry Denon or should I say Councillor! A band D property pays £1521.75 in Council Tax regardless of who gets a share of the pot! The Councils share of that money is £1252.32 !! Liar? Cheap shot!!!! flamboyant
  • Score: 5

5:41pm Sat 7 Jun 14

William Rudd says...

Why does it cost £200,000 to keep one child in care?
Why does it cost £200,000 to keep one child in care? William Rudd
  • Score: 5

5:42pm Sat 7 Jun 14

denon says...

Councillor?
Councillor? denon
  • Score: -5

6:14pm Sat 7 Jun 14

makeithappen says...

denon wrote:
Councillor?
Denon that was my first thought too lol

The letter starts

'What do we get for our Council tax?'

Council tax for a band D property is £1521.75 the Council collect it and it is as stated.
Cllr Johnson should have stated the Council only get £1252.32 from the collected tax after fire, police, etc.

To call/ suggest someone is a liar is out of order!
[quote][p][bold]denon[/bold] wrote: Councillor?[/p][/quote]Denon that was my first thought too lol The letter starts 'What do we get for our Council tax?' Council tax for a band D property is £1521.75 the Council collect it and it is as stated. Cllr Johnson should have stated the Council only get £1252.32 from the collected tax after fire, police, etc. To call/ suggest someone is a liar is out of order! makeithappen
  • Score: 5

9:55pm Sat 7 Jun 14

dippyhippy says...

William Rudd wrote:
Why does it cost £200,000 to keep one child in care?
Evening William!

This is probably the cost of a residential placement, and they can be significantly more than this.
They are usually out of county placements, and the care providers are private companies with an eye on profit margins.
The children can be sent miles away, not great for them or their families.
Why can't we use some of these "surplus to requirements"buildin
gs, I believe Brockington will soon be on the list, and staff it. We have a wealth of knowledge and expertise within this county, in working with children with complex needs.
Surely this would be a better solution, not just financially, but for the young people and their families?
[quote][p][bold]William Rudd[/bold] wrote: Why does it cost £200,000 to keep one child in care?[/p][/quote]Evening William! This is probably the cost of a residential placement, and they can be significantly more than this. They are usually out of county placements, and the care providers are private companies with an eye on profit margins. The children can be sent miles away, not great for them or their families. Why can't we use some of these "surplus to requirements"buildin gs, I believe Brockington will soon be on the list, and staff it. We have a wealth of knowledge and expertise within this county, in working with children with complex needs. Surely this would be a better solution, not just financially, but for the young people and their families? dippyhippy
  • Score: 8

10:49pm Sat 7 Jun 14

dippyhippy says...

Also of interest to readers....

A poster on Hereford Voice, contacted Cllr Bramer regarding the grass cutting, and posed a similar question. ie, What do I get for my council tax?
The reply he received was identical to this letter....but with a few more lines!
Notably, the following...

"Readers will remember that when we offered Cabinet places and responsibility to other political groups, those groups refused them, preferring not to be associated with difficult to decisions, but to criticize from the side-lines.
So the next time a responsibility shirker tells you how much better they could do the job, two questions to ask might be, "Why didn't you take the chance when offered?" and "What, exactly, would you have done differently?"
This was posted on June 4th.
I am unsure whether these comments can be attributed to Cllr Johnson, and The Hereford Times have edited them out, or they are solely the thoughts of Cllr Bramer.

I remain unconvinced that trying to appear to have the moral high ground, is a particularly good strategy.....too many of us now, are fully aware of the dubious goings on.
Also of interest to readers.... A poster on Hereford Voice, contacted Cllr Bramer regarding the grass cutting, and posed a similar question. ie, What do I get for my council tax? The reply he received was identical to this letter....but with a few more lines! Notably, the following... "Readers will remember that when we offered Cabinet places and responsibility to other political groups, those groups refused them, preferring not to be associated with difficult to decisions, but to criticize from the side-lines. So the next time a responsibility shirker tells you how much better they could do the job, two questions to ask might be, "Why didn't you take the chance when offered?" and "What, exactly, would you have done differently?" This was posted on June 4th. I am unsure whether these comments can be attributed to Cllr Johnson, and The Hereford Times have edited them out, or they are solely the thoughts of Cllr Bramer. I remain unconvinced that trying to appear to have the moral high ground, is a particularly good strategy.....too many of us now, are fully aware of the dubious goings on. dippyhippy
  • Score: 11

11:25pm Sat 7 Jun 14

denon says...

Perhaps liar was out of order....I am not a councillor and I live in pershore
Perhaps liar was out of order....I am not a councillor and I live in pershore denon
  • Score: -2

10:37pm Sun 8 Jun 14

Christine Melsom says...

No mention of the cost of staff salaries, councillors allowances and pensions. That is where most of the money goes.
No mention of the cost of staff salaries, councillors allowances and pensions. That is where most of the money goes. Christine Melsom
  • Score: 1

9:59pm Mon 9 Jun 14

WYSIATI says...

Christine Melsom wrote:
No mention of the cost of staff salaries, councillors allowances and pensions. That is where most of the money goes.
staff salaries would be included in the costs mentioned, councillors allowances add up to £673k (2012-13) and pensions I think come from the local government pension scheme and staff pay in from their salaries.

It's possible that the money goes where he says - and as laid out in the council tax leaflet (https://www.herefor
dshire.gov.uk/media/
7756412/council_tax_
leaflet_2014-15.pdf)


The big issues are that costs for child protection and adult social care are increasing rapidly - there are more children being put into care by the courts and there are a lot more vulnerable old people in Herefordshire. Costs up and Govt grants down. If you can make the numbers add up and not cut great chunks off services I am sure that a lot of people who care would love to hear.
[quote][p][bold]Christine Melsom[/bold] wrote: No mention of the cost of staff salaries, councillors allowances and pensions. That is where most of the money goes.[/p][/quote]staff salaries would be included in the costs mentioned, councillors allowances add up to £673k (2012-13) and pensions I think come from the local government pension scheme and staff pay in from their salaries. It's possible that the money goes where he says - and as laid out in the council tax leaflet (https://www.herefor dshire.gov.uk/media/ 7756412/council_tax_ leaflet_2014-15.pdf) The big issues are that costs for child protection and adult social care are increasing rapidly - there are more children being put into care by the courts and there are a lot more vulnerable old people in Herefordshire. Costs up and Govt grants down. If you can make the numbers add up and not cut great chunks off services I am sure that a lot of people who care would love to hear. WYSIATI
  • Score: 2

10:17pm Mon 9 Jun 14

Christine Melsom says...

The good people of Hereford are the Local Government Pension Scheme. The employees may well contribute about 6.5% of salary, but the public contribute a very large percentage. If Hereford is similar to most of the other county councils, then that amount including past pensions will be well over 20% and rising.
Again, councillors (although it will stop at the end of the next four year cycle) have been allowed to join the Local Government Pension Scheme. This Government may have tweaked this scheme, but very little to the advantage of the tax payer.
The good people of Hereford are the Local Government Pension Scheme. The employees may well contribute about 6.5% of salary, but the public contribute a very large percentage. If Hereford is similar to most of the other county councils, then that amount including past pensions will be well over 20% and rising. Again, councillors (although it will stop at the end of the next four year cycle) have been allowed to join the Local Government Pension Scheme. This Government may have tweaked this scheme, but very little to the advantage of the tax payer. Christine Melsom
  • Score: -1

7:32am Tue 10 Jun 14

Simon Brown says...

flamboyant wrote:
I can't take this man seriously when his key argument is inaccurate!

COUNCIL TAX FOR A BAND 'D' PROPERTY IS £1521.74

You numpty!!!!
Your total council tax partly depends on your parish council precept, so check that out too.
[quote][p][bold]flamboyant[/bold] wrote: I can't take this man seriously when his key argument is inaccurate! COUNCIL TAX FOR A BAND 'D' PROPERTY IS £1521.74 You numpty!!!![/p][/quote]Your total council tax partly depends on your parish council precept, so check that out too. Simon Brown
  • Score: 0

7:35am Tue 10 Jun 14

Simon Brown says...

William Rudd wrote:
Why does it cost £200,000 to keep one child in care?
Precisely. Mr Johnson should not accept such a cost willy-nilly. For once I agree with W Rudd aka many other names.
[quote][p][bold]William Rudd[/bold] wrote: Why does it cost £200,000 to keep one child in care?[/p][/quote]Precisely. Mr Johnson should not accept such a cost willy-nilly. For once I agree with W Rudd aka many other names. Simon Brown
  • Score: 0

9:43am Tue 10 Jun 14

Christine Melsom says...

It is very wrong to continually use the average band D figure I would suggest that the average council tax for Herefordshire is much less - probably somewhere about band C.
Perhaps Councillor Bramer and his ilk should consider getting rid of the Cabinet system, it only exists to lessen democracy. Eric Pickles has suggested that this system should go and some councils agree with him.
On a recent check of councillors salaries it was found that some receive £60,000pa and more.. Some salary for something that used to be done pro bono.
It is very wrong to continually use the average band D figure I would suggest that the average council tax for Herefordshire is much less - probably somewhere about band C. Perhaps Councillor Bramer and his ilk should consider getting rid of the Cabinet system, it only exists to lessen democracy. Eric Pickles has suggested that this system should go and some councils agree with him. On a recent check of councillors salaries it was found that some receive £60,000pa and more.. Some salary for something that used to be done pro bono. Christine Melsom
  • Score: 0

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